Key conceptual issues

  • Challenge to the concept of a ‘book’
  • Implications for pedagogy
  • Content & pedagogy-the  ebook and the ‘VLE’
  • Authority/provenance
  • Citation issues


Challenge to the concept of a ‘book’

From: JISC TechWatch: Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of Ebooks in Education. November 2012.
[page 52]
Already on devices such as the iPad we are seeing how “publishers are beginning to explore richly visual interfaces that include multimedia and collaborative elements” (Johnson et al, 2011, p. 8) . As noted in the 2011 Horizon Report (Johnson et al, 2011), the successes of apps for the ‘social magazine’ Flipboard and digital magazines such as Wired are extending their readers’ experience of textual content. Over the next few years, we are going to see more kinds of books echoing the Flipboard social magazine format as well as greater use of interactive graphs and (as might be expected) more richly integrated use of video and audio. Research shows these aspects “can genuinely add value” as “students [find] them invaluable” (Armstrong & Lonsdale, 2009).

From: Inkling Builds a Better (and Pricier) E-Book By Danielle Kucera Bloomberg Businessweek (Technology) 12 February  2013

Most magazines and newspapers have created tablet apps with slideshows and videos. But book publishers haven’t been able to capitalize on interactive capabilities because software made by (AMZN) and Apple (AAPL) doesn’t support much embedded multimedia and can be complicated for developers to use. Many heavily illustrated—and expensive—books are put on devices with little thought to enhancing or animating graphics, illustrations, or instructions.

Implications for pedagogy

From: Ebook consumption Visitors & residents Briefing Feb2013
covert  online study habits.
For example, Wikipedia is widely used but almost always with a sense of guilt or an eagerness to convey awareness of its ‗unreliability‘; there is an assumption by students that teachers and lecturers value the authenticity of paper-based books rather than information found online through a browser, such as Google (the data also indicate that this assumption is unfounded)

In essence, many students were hoping that technology would evolve to become capable of returning the perfect answer and that they would not have to critically evaluate. This notion is very much in tension with academic notions of what it means to learn‘ and how this differs from simply providing a correct‘ answer.  ‘Like at first it was just Google and just research papers. And then, I don’t have all the time, I just want a direct answer, I don’t want to read about everyone’s problems and symptoms’.

From: JISC TechWatch: Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of Ebooks in Education. November 2012.
[page 38-39]
Classroom scenario: integrating ebooks directly into group discussion
Providing access to ebooks in a classroom or seminar environment can bring directly into the classroom resources that previously would be restricted to the physical library. Within classroom activities the role of the book is often restricted to the core textbook for the course. It would be entirely possible for learners to be provided with complete access to the reading list for a course were they able to access the books from that list as ebooks during an actual lesson. Having access within seminars will allow learners to find a particular reference or contextualise an argument or point during a group discussion. This could provide greater depth to classroom activities and allow for differentiation as individual learners could be assigned varied tasks related to different ebooks, rather than all learners undertaking the same activity and being obliged to use the same core textbook. The JISC National E-books Observatory Project recommends that “teaching staff should also be encouraged to engage more actively in pointing out to students the range of high quality free and paid for e-book content that is available” (JISC Collections,  2009, p. 27)

[page 39]
Lecture theatre scenario: providing ebooks as core texts
Providing core texts as ebooks to support a lecture or series of lectures may enable students to prepare more easily, since they could consult introductory notes using a mobile device on the way to the lecture. Being able to refer to core texts during lectures may help learners gain an understanding of difficult topics or explanations.

[page 47]
The how and where of learning is changing. Traditionally students would undertake formalised learning in lecture theatres, labs and seminar rooms, and they would carry on their learning informally within the library or study areas. Restricting access to books to the library was an obvious solution to demand from learners for texts and journals. While currently this model of learning still predominates, non-conventional learners are now accessing Higher and Further Education learning at a time and place to suit them. Such learning can take place in college, at home, in the workplace and elsewhere. As a result, learners need remote and mobile access to learning. Providing access to ebooks for learners through mobile devices can help remote students make use of a collection of learning resources they may otherwise not beable to use

From: Ebook consumption : CIBER Research briefing Feb2013
Skittering on the scale it is currently being conducted (and likely to increase) is thought by commentators like Stephen Carr to be having negative consequences for some of our treasured fundamental skills.

Content & pedagogy-the ebook and the ‘VLE’

From: JISC TechWatch: Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of Ebooks in Education. November 2012.

[page 52]
The linking, embedding and integration of ebooks with the institutional virtual learning environment (VLE) is one area not currently exploited fully by institutions. Whereas most courses have required and recommended reading lists that students can use to access the relevant texts in the institutional library, what ebooks allow is immediate access to those texts from the confines of the module within the VLE. With this closer integration of ebooks to the VLE, it will be possible to hyperlink a specific reference to a source, allowing students to follow links within ebooks to find a specified passage within a source and to see how the specified passage fits within the context of a chapter or book as a whole.


From: JISC TechWatch: Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of Ebooks in Education. November 2012.

[page 52]
Dynamic ebooks open the possibility of collaborative authorship among academics. This collaboration could take the form of academics creating and jointly writing ebooks for students that could be used at multiple institutions and updated as requirements changed. These ebooks could be “forked” to enable custom versions for the different institutions using them. As with Wikipedia and similar crowdsourced content, issues of authenticity and accuracy could arise and these issues would need to be addressed by those using such ebooks.

From: Ebook consumption Visitors & residents Briefing Feb2013

For many students in the Emerging educational stage the academic level of Wikipedia seems appropriate. It is frequently used for school and assessment purposes and provides interviewees not only with useful factual information, but also with an initial introduction to a topic, together with further references.

And do you think that Wikipedia always gives you the best way forward?
‘Probably not the best, but I think it’s the simplest and easiest way to get going. So if I needed to produce a much more detailed and developed essay I would probably explore further on the internet’. (UKS1)

Our data suggest something akin to a learning black market‘ (or grey‘ market) as students make regular use of Wikipedia but are often uncomfortable about revealing this to their teachers.

Citation issues

From: JISC TechWatch: Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of Ebooks in Education. November 2012.
[page 33]
One of the dominant advantages of the ebook is also one of the main disadvantages. Most ebook formats allow the user to resize the text and as a result the text will reflow to match the changed size of text. In a similar way, the same ebook on different readers will reflow differently because of varying screen sizes. As a consequence, the text on page 143 of an ebook in one e-reader could be different to that on page 143 when the ebook is viewed on a different reader, or when the text is a different size. Referring to a quotation from a book equires the writer to note the page number. Whereas ebooks in PDF format often have page numbers, other ebook formats do not always display page numbers consistently. When quoting from an ebook on an ebook reader, it is wiser to use instead the chapter and (where possible) section to indicate the location of a quoted span of text. To help address this problem, some ebooks provide an indicative page number for content so that it can be referenced consistently (even if the actual page number varies). Learners will need additional guidance on how to cite ebooks that are held by the institution